updated 08:30 pm EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
Change framed as no longer having limitations, Google offers thanks for feedback
Google announced today that it's removing the requirement for real names to be used on its Google+ platform. After years of user complaints over the policy, it appears that Google finally gave into public demands. The company doesn't state a specific reason for the change, but frames the change in a way that all limitations have been removed.
When Google+ first launched in 2011, the company required that real names be used on the social media service in a fashion similar to Facebook. Users and privacy groups decried the policy, which ultimately would keep most people from using it. Over time, Google backed away from the requirement, eventually allowing nicknames and usernames from YouTube.
Taking to the official Google+ page on the service, Google acknowledges that the name use created a bumpy ride for users of the service. However, having a blanket policy that required actual names helped to build the community around the social media platform. Google realized that by forcing people into the requirement, a portion of the population that wanted to be a part of the community was excluded from the service.
The way the post is framed makes it seem like the naming policy was always headed in a direction away from the real name requirement. After enforcing the policy for three years, it seems like a convenient approach that could be linked to the April departure of the Vic Gundotra, the former head of social at Google.
"We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users," said Google. "For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be."
In addition to the reversal, Google thanked users in the post for expressing opinions over the naming requirements.
Even with the requirement lifted, some naming limitations remain. In order to create or change a Google+ profile, a first and last name is still required. The Google support page states that a single initial can be used in one of the fields, but not both. The number of name changes is also limited. If a profile name is changed too many times, users may be required to wait up to three months before it attempting a change again. Nicknames remain optional, and the impersonation of others is still strictly prohibited.